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Slovakia: Gorilla causes fight for direct democracy

The Slovakian democracy group meeting with Ronald Pabst

Slovakia: Gorilla causes fight for direct democracy


New group of activists founded in Bratislava: In March 2012 political activists launched the Petition for a better Slovakia with the goal of improving Slovakia’s legislation for referenda. The activists also founded the group OZ PD (Direct Democracy Association) in Bratislava to realise citizen-friendly referenda. The campaign is gathering momentum in Slovakia these days.


The campaigners use the current referendum law to realise their aim. This strategy is called “referendum about the referendum”. It was applied by Mehr Demokratie in Germany successfully several times, yet only on the regional level. Slovakia is among the few EU countries where activists apply this approach at national level.

Up to date, the group has reportedly collected 25.000 signatures. The petition started during the mass protests against corruption, “Gorilla”. This is the name of a secret wiretap file leaked to the internet in December 2011, revealing corruption activities by Slovakia’s top politicians.

The scandal pushed the movement as it became obvious that the system of checks and balances does not work sufficiently in Slovakia. The group activists see the introduction of a fair referendum law as a remedy against corruption in their home country.

In Slovakia’s history of the past twenty years, only one valid referendum was held. In 2003 nine out of ten eligible Slovaks voted in favour of Slovakia joining the European Union. However, this referendum was introduced by the government. In Slovakia, there has not yet been any referendum initiated by the citizens.

Further information:

- on Slovakia's provision of direct democracy in the Navigator to Direct Democracy
- on the referenda held in Slovakia's history
- on the corruption scandal Gorilla

Text by Ronald Pabst, edited by Cora Pfafferott


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